College Football Preview: The 2014 Ohio Bobcats
The Ohio Bobcats need to replace some production in key areas to be a factor in 2014.
2014 College Football Preview
The Ohio Bobcats and Frank Solich turn to some new faces to make a run at the MAC championship.
Overview: Ohio suffered through another train wreck in November and barely recovered to secure a Bowl invite and now begin 2014 without stalwarts Tyler Tettleton and Beau Blankenship. The duo led the team two three Bowls in three years so where does Ohio turn to without the productive tandem in the backfield? I think when the questions are many and the answers too few so we turn to Frank Solich because he probably has something figured out.
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Offense: Derrius Vick had backed up Tettleton the last few seasons and saw limited action but some question his accuracy in the air; but not his legs. He won't match Tettleton's over 2,800 passing yards but has ability to tuck the rock and go which his predecessor did not. JD Sprague might be tabbed if Vick struggles so nothing is etched in stone. Replacing RB Beau Blankenship with Daz'mond Patterson who only saw 38 carries a year ago doesn't seem like a plus but Patterson is quicker and more explosive whereas Blankenship was more of a four yards and a cloud of dust runner. The Bobcats also lost two of their top three receivers with top target Donte Foster (69-1021) gone but #2 man Chase Cochran averaged a team high 13 yards per catch and should slide in to the top spot. Ten different lineman saw time and most return so that area should stabilize.
Defense: The Bobcats biggest issues on the defensive side of the football was youth and inexperience with a tendency to allow the big play. The top seven that rotated on the defensive line are all back and only two are seniors so inexperience shouldn't be a problem. The linebacking crew returns their top two including leading tackler Ben Russell who accounted for 64.5 stops in '13. The secondary also has experience and depth with SS Josh Kristoff bringing back 54 stops which was second on the team. Overall the secondary returns nine players that saw significant action so there won't be an 'inexperience' excuse in any area. Actually the opposite is true with Ohio having plenty of depth as well throughout this unit.
Special Teams: Grant Venham averaged less then 38 yards per boot but not many were returned and the coverage team was solid. Josiah Yazdani was 14-15 on field goals and 11-11 under 40 yards. Devin Bass and Nathan Carpenter were adequate kick returners but Ohio needs someone to step up on punt returns with Travis Carrie departing.
Outlook: I wouldn't epect to see the passing attack to be as strong in the post Tettleton era but with a stable offensive line the rushing game should be much better with an added degree of explosiveness. The schedule is far from overwhelming which should help the win column but we won't know much until they take the field. I can see a .500 season or better but much more is probably in store next year.